Come See What’s on the Slab

I continue to be the mad scientist of printmaking, but it’s way too cold to wear nothing but a corset and fishnets, as the title of today’s post might suggest.

After a morning spent carving the Nuestra Sra de Belen block, I went next door to what I refer to as the print lab to continue learning how to use this new setup.

First of all, a bit of my thought process. The things I’m thinking most about (so far) are the living presence of the fields and sky; the Romanesque art and architecture that is all around me; the permanent population of the town alongside the constant stream of pilgrims; and the contrast between modern life and all the medieval-ness that revolves around pilgrimage. So you will see aspects of all these things showing up in the art I produce while I’m here, and even in my experiments. After all, the experiments just might work out ok, eh?

First up today was a bit of playing with grass I picked outside my house. I covered the plate with a solid coat of yellow ochre.

Then I inked up three pieces of grass with purple, laid them on the plate, and trimmed off any stem that reached beyond the edges of the plate.

The World Bazaar shop here in town had cheap spray bottles with adjustable spray – only .75€! – so now I can spray my paper just enough to get it damp.

A bit of careful rubbing and voila! Here is the print on the left, and the plate with the grass and some ink still in place.

The print by itself.

Next I removed the actual pieces of grass, and placed another damp piece of paper over the ‘ghost’ plate. The resulting print:

I found that the test print that I had allowed to dry flat on the table had warped quite a bit.

I ran some string across one of the rooms and am drying the prints this way. Let’s hope there’s less warping. One lesson learned: don’t do laundry and make prints on the same day, unless you want to buy more clothes pins. I only had enough pins to hang four prints.

By the way, cut ends of reeds make a good tool for picking organic bits out of your ink.

Next, a new plate and a new idea; here I’m thinking of medieval manuscripts and the patterns often found in the background. I’m just messing around here, so not bothering with ruled lines or anything like that. I simply used the edge of a brayer to make the thin lines, and painted the red squares with a paintbrush and the thinner Akua monoprint ink I brought.

Oops! Here’s a lesson: wipe out the sink after you’ve been moistening sheets of paper. There was a pool of water in the sink, and now a big too-wet spot on the paper.

But it turned out ok anyway. You can see the lighter spot on the plate (to the right) where the wet paper picked up extra ink.

And here’s a preview of my next project, along with a glimpse of the carved block I mentioned earlier.

Tomorrow, I’ll be making sketches at the Bar Europa of people watching the US election results come in, practice for taking part in my friend Andrew Purchin’s ‘1000 Artists‘ project. Then I’ll hop on a bus for a couple of days in Leon. I’m looking forward to exploring the Cathedral, the Basilica of San Isidro, and visiting a show of Spanish feminist art at the museum of contemporary art.

Hasta pronto!

Author: Melissa

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